January 1835-June 1836

The Collected Letters, Volume 8


TC TO JANET CARLYLE HANNING; 16 May 1836; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18360516-TC-JCHA-01; CL 8:347-349.


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, / 16th May 1836—

My Dear Jenny,

Your Letter has been here several weeks; a very welcome messenger to us: and I did not think, at the time, I should have been so long in answering it. But I have been drawn hither and thither by many things, of late: besides I judged that Robert and you were happy enough of yourselves for the present; and did not much need any foreign aid or interruption.

I need not assure you, my dear little Jenny, of the interest I took in the great enterprise you had embarked on; of my wishes and prayers that it might prove for the good of both. On the whole, I can say that to my judgement it looks all very fair and well. You know I have all along regard[ed] Hanning as an uncommonly brisk gleg [quick] little fellow, since the first time I saw him (hardly longer than my leg then) and prophecied [sic] handsome things of him in the world. It is very rare and very fortunate when two parties that have affected each other from childhood upwards get together in indissoluble partnership at last. May it prove well for you; as I think it will! You must take the good and the ill in faithful mutual help; and whoever or whatever fail you, never fail one another. I have no doubt Robert will shift his way with all dexterity and prudence thro' that Cotton Babylon looking sharp about him; knowing always too that “honesty is the best policy” for all manner of men. Do thou faithfully second him, my bairn; that will be the best of lots for thee.

I think it possible that now and then, especially when you are left alone, the look of so many foreign things may seem dispiriting to you; and the huge smoke and stour [bustle] of that tumultuous Manchester (which is not unlike the uglier parts of London) produce quite other than a pleasant impression. But take courage, my woman: “You will use, you will use”; and get hefted [accustomed] to the place, as all creatures do. There are many good people in that vast weaving-shop, many good things; among the innumerable bad. Keep snug within your own doors, keep your own hearth snug; by and by you will see what is worth venturing out for. Have nothing to do with the foolish, with the vain, and ill-conducted. Attach yourself to the well-living and sensible; to every one from whom you find there is real benefit derivable. Thus by degrees a desirable little circle will form itself round you; you will feel that Manchester is a home, as all places under the Heavenly sun may become for one.

In a Newspaper you would notice that the Doctor was come. Till this day almost, there was little else to be said about him than that he was here and well. He has been speculating and inquiring as to what he should do: and now has determined that London practice will not do for the present; that he should go back to Italy with his Lady and try again to get practice there. He is gone out this moment to make a bargain to that effect. They are to set out for Rome again on the first of September: from that till the first of March, the Doctor is Lady Clare's Doctor, but lives in his own Lodging at Rome: after that he is free to do whatsoever he will; to stay there, if stay seem inviting; to return home, if otherwise. I believe, myself that he has decided wisely. Till September then we have him amongst us. He talks of being off “in a week or two” for Scotland: he charged me to say that he would see Manchester and you either as he went or as he returned: it is not much out of the way, if one go by Carlisle (or rather I suppose it is directly in the way), or even if one go by Liverpool; but I rather think he will make for Newcastle this time; to which place we have a Steamboat direct. This is a good season for Steamboats, and a bad for Coaches, for which latter indeed what good season is there? Nothing in the world is frightfuller to me, of the travelling sort, than a Coach on a long journey. It were easier by half to walk it with peas (at least boiled peas) in your shoes,—were not the time so much shorter!— The Doctor looks very well and sonsy [hearty]; he seems in good health and well to live; the only change is that his head is getting a shade of grey (quite ahead of mine, tho' I am six years older) which does not misseem him but looks [ver]y well.

[We] had a long speculation about going to Scotland too but I doubt we mu[st] renounce it, this summer. I have finished my second volume, but there is still the Third to do; and I must have such a tuffle with it! All summer, I will struggle and wrestle; but then about the time of the gathering in of sheaves, I too shall be gathering in.— Jane has gone out to “buy a cotton gown”; for the weather is at last beautiful and warm. Before going, she bade me send you both her best wishes and regards, prayers for a happy pilgrimage together. She has been but poorly for a good while (indeed all the world is sick with these East winds and perpetual changes); but will probably be better now. Jack and I too have both had our colds. Then Anne Cook fell sick, almost dangerously sick for the time: but Jack was there, and gave abundant medical help; so the poor creature is on her feet again; and a great burble of confusion is rolled out of doors thereby.

I am writing to our Mother this day. I have heard nothing from that quarter since the Letter that informed me the poor little child was dead. Jean wrote part of it herself, and seemed in a very composed state, keeping her natural sorrow courageously down. Our Mother I believe continues there till Jean be ill again, and we hope happily well.1

Whether there may be a frank procurable today I know not; but I will try. At worst I will not wait lest you grow impatient again and get short.2— If you knew what a fizz I am kept in, with one thing and another! Write to me when you have time to fill a sheet: news, descriptions of how you get on, what you suffer and enjoy, what you do; these are the best. I will answer. Send an old Newspaper from time to time with two strokes on it, if you are well. Promise however to write instantly if you are ill! Then shall we know to keep ourselves in peace. Farewell dear little Sister! Give our love to our new Brother; tell him to walk wisely and be a credit to your choice. God be with you both!

T. Carlyle.—